The Tangipahoa Parish Training School, founded in 1911, was the first “county training school” in the entire South.
The Tangipahoa Parish Training School, founded in 1911, was the first “county training school” in the entire South. A “county training school” was conceived as the only school of its kind in each county or parish. It would be centrally located and would provide instruction for Negro children in grades one through ten (or eleven) with a stress on “vocational” and “industrial” education at the secondary level. It would also provide teacher training so that its graduates could staff the rural black schools in the parish. The “county training schools” were the real beginning of secondary public education for blacks in the rural South.
This school fosters the idea of having boys learn scientific agriculture, dairying and horticulture for girls sewing, domestic economy, cooking, dairying and poultry raising. We have cleaned up 10 acres and will soon begin fencing. We need at least $4000.00 to finish our building and get in running order. We therefore ask you as a conservative southern gentleman, to help us in this movement, the best and conservative white ladies and gentlemen of this section are doing everything to make movement succeed. The mills have donated lumber, brickyard brick, the negro laborers at the mills have signed petition to give 25¢ monthly for support of institution. . . We believe if this school succeeds with this unique idea of education it’s promoters must be southern men who know every phase of negro life.”
The Tangipahoa Parish Training School drew many students from surrounding parishes, including Washington, St. Tammany, St. Helena, East and West Feliciana, and from southern Mississippi, especially Pike County. Thus a dormitory was necessary for the students who could not live at home. School terms usually began in July and ended in March to allow students to participate in the harvesting of the strawberry crop.
The school went through three phases in its development. From its founding in 1911 until 1955 it was known as the Tangipahoa Parish Training School and for most of this period was under the leadership of Oliver Wendell Dillon. From 1955 until 1969, although its operations continued in much the same manner, its name was the O. W. Dillon Memorial School. In 1969 with the coming of integration, it became Kentwood Elementary School.
The Old Dormitory was built in the early 1920’s. At first it housed only about fifteen persons, mainly families of the teachers. Later it housed as many as a hundred girls and female teachers. It remained a dormitory until 1951, when it was renovated and converted to classrooms. In recent years it had been used mainly for Home Economics classes and instruction in remedial reading and mathematics.